- Booster Gold #20, by Keith Giffen, Pat Olliffe, Norm Rapmund, Dan Jurgens & Rodney Ramos (DC)
- Fables #84, by Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, Tony Akins, Andrew Pepoy & Dan Green (DC/Vertigo)
- The Unwritten #1, by Mike Carey & Peter Gross (DC/Vertigo)
- Echo #12, by Terry Moore (Abstract)
- The Unknown #1 of 4, by Mark Waid & Minck Oosterveer (Boom)
- Unthinkable #1 of 5, by Mark Sable & Julian Totino Tedesco (Boom)
- B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #5 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
- The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 of 6, by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
- Castle Waiting #15, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)
The Unwritten is getting as much buzz in comics as anything I can recall coming out of Vertigo this decade, and the first issue is only $1.00, so it sure seems worth a try. I didn’t read Carey & Gross’ previous series, Lucifer, and I think this might be my first exposure to Carey’s writing, though I’ve seen Gross’ work before. Although his art is on the under-rendered side for my tastes, I like it better than Peter Snejbjerg’s (a comparison I make because they have very similar styles).
The premise is that Tom Taylor is, like Christopher Robin Milne, a grown man who as a boy was the model for a fictional character in a children’s book. Tommy Taylor appears to be a hero much like Harry Potter, whose adventures appeared a couple of decades ago to great acclaim (the series in the story is even more popular than J.K. Rowling’s books), before the author, Wilson Taylor, disappeared. In the present day, Tom Taylor is eclipsed by his fictional namesake, and supports himself mainly through signing tours. Though gracious to fans of the series, he chafes that he has no accomplishments or career of his own.
But it soon comes out that not all in Tom’s life is what it appears, perhaps just a boy Wilson hired from his family to take on tour. Tom’s life collapses as investigations into his background and the fans turn against him. And then things get really weird, when it starts to seem like Tom might just be Tommy Taylor.
Carey and Gross say that The Unwritten is going to be a meditation on stories, and on “the story behind all stories”, which strikes me as both a hugely ambitious hook, and one a lot less interesting than the basic notion of a guy who might be a fictional character and not know it. Pulling off either of these metaphysical, metatextual notions is going to take some careful execution – nothing could kill the story faster than ending up in random fantasy lands devoid of structure or rules – but there’s a lot of potential here, and I do hope they can live up to most of it.
Gross’ art is still under-rendered for my preference (although the last page is quite good), but overall the book is quite intriguing and might well live up to all the hype. It’s off to a good start.
I wasn’t as enamored of the first series of The Umbrella Academy as some were: I thought it was a lot of random twaddle strewn about a decent but unexceptional plot, albeit with quite good artwork. The second series, Dallas, seems to have catered to the die-hard fans by reducing the quality of the plot and throwing in a lot more twaddle: Time-traveling assassins, a boss with a fish-in-a-bowl for a head, a side-trip to Vietnam, before winding up in Dallas at the Kennedy assassination. Quirkily weird, it also feels devoid of all meaning, with cardboard characters.
I guess sales have not been as strong as the first series, but no doubt there will be a third one. I’m not sure I’m interested enough to keep going, though; I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much out of the first two.